With the deadline for 2021–22 tax returns just over a week away, the Australian Tax Office is encouraging taxpayers not to leave it until the last minute, by doing it yourself online, or getting in contact with a tax agent.
Though lodging your tax return with a tax agent does buy you a little extra time, Matt Free from A Grade Tax Penrith said that the October 31 deadline is just as important.
“The deadline for people who don’t lodge through a tax agent is at the end of the month, on October 31,” he said.
“If you go through an agent, such as A Grade Tax, you can get an extension until May 15 next year to do your tax – but you have to have seen the tax agent before October 31 to get on that extension list.”
For those with a simple return, the free myTax service will have you done and dusted in under 30 minutes.
But, for first-timers or those with a more complex return, seeing a tax agent may be the best option.
“The tax system doesn’t make it easy for people who have more complex affairs to do the return themselves – it can be a bit daunting not knowing what boxes to tick or what information to put in an online form,” he said.
“If you’re not comfortable answering the questions, or you have dramas or problems answering the questions online, definitely go and see someone who can help you. That way, you’ll still get your return lodged, you get a bit longer to do it, and the people at A Grade Tax or other accountants can give you a bit of advice along the way on what is best to claim, and what your options are with claiming deductions.”
Whether you’re doing it on your own or going to a tax agent, it’s important to know what to claim. For many, working from home expenses may be the big-ticket item.
“As a tax agent, we can get records of most taxpayers’ incomes from the ATO each year, it’s just the discretionary spending that we don’t know about, they’re the work-related deductions that people may spend,” Mr Free said.
“Particularly working from home, that’s been popular.
“For the last 12 months, try to have good records of what you spent at home – computers, printers, cartridges, paper, electricity costs, hours you’ve been working at home. There’s definitely some things you can claim there if you did work from home.
“I’d encourage people for the current tax year we’re in to keep all of your receipts, whether you think you can claim them or not. If in doubt, you can see a tax agent and they’ll help you out and let you know whether that’s something you can claim.
“If you use your car for work, if you haven’t already done so, start a logbook that you can claim your business usage of all your running costs.”
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.